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have in this been impressed with a sense of the leadings of Providence, as if God bad in this way been teaching his servants where to find many of the outcasts of our Israel, and how to address them. And they feel the greater certainty in pointing to such a course, from the recollection that while our Lord himself taught in the synagogue every Sabbath day, be preached in just such places as these to many who frequented not the synagogue, and that many of the fruits of bis ministry were gathered in these out-field labours.
“10. But looking at the present aspect of Providence, and the state of many parts of the country, your Committee are farther of opinion, that such fallow-ground would in many places require to be first broken up by men specially commissioned under the authority of this house, these going forth two and two to visit and preach in as many districts. If a beginning were thus made, others would follow in their train, and carry out the work thus shown to be practicable.
“ II. And, in conclusion, your Committee would submit, that before entering on such undertakings as these, it would be fitting and proper to appoint some early day when congregations would be assembled together for purposes of confession and prayer, and for giving themselves to God in the furtherance of this great work, each saying in effect, 'Lord, what wouldst thau bave me to do?'
“ D. MacFarlan, Convener.” Moderator, I have no wish to discuss any of the subjects contained in this report; but it may be well that I should explain, in a few sentences, the principle and design of the arrangement.
The first object contemplated by the Committee is to bring the whole subject before Presbyteries, and, through them, before kirk-sessions. And with this view, instead of submitting so many queries, they bave merely thrown out the three great branches, under one or other of which all information on this subject must fall -the expectation which may be warrantably cherished—the bindrance which stands in the way—and the means, whether of removing these or otherwise promoting the work of God. And then, as regards the second branch, most of the suggestions offered bave already been sufficiently proved, and require not therefore to be sub. mitted as matters of experiment. Yet even these are rather urged on the attention of Presbyteries, if the Assembly shall approve, than sent down as forming anytbing like a directory. They are in themselves, however, as the Committee believe, of great importance in the present position of the Church. And with regard to the remaining suggestions,—some of these have been less tried, and give rise to some difference of opinion. But your Committee believe, that the circumstances of the country call for unusual measures. And they are persuaded, that when their brethren shall have given due consideration to the subject, they will be disposed to go into any measure which is at once scriptural and suitable. And this will fully serve the end; for there is absolutely no plan proposed in the character of a specific. Presbyteries must judge of their own localities, and adopt such means as appear best, whether these fall within the particular scope of the suggestions offered, or otherwise. Your Committee have thus brought before you wbat appeared advisable in the circumstances; and they look forward with confidence to the more matured and efficient proposals which the united wisdom of the Church may devise. And believing the whole to be of God, they trust and pray, that he will render such means subservient to his own glory.
Da Gordon.-In rising to move the adoption of the report,- the very important report now read,- I do not intend to detain the Assembly with any remarks upon the various suggestions contained in it. These have been considered far more carefully and more maturely than I have had either the power or the opportunity of doing; and it is the less necessary that this should be done, particularly as the report itself suggests that the recommendations contained in it should be submitted io Presbyteries. I may, however, say so much in regard to them, that I think them exceedingly judicious, very important, and that they are to a great extent practical and practicable. I sincerely hope, that after they have undergone the serious consideration of Presbyteries, there will, by tbe blessing of God, come out of these a great deal for the furtherance of the gospel. But I would take leave to remark, what I am conscious I need myself, that whatever may be the practical suggestions that may hereafter be acted upon, if we would carry them into effect with any hope of success, we must carefully seek to keep alive the impression which I am sure we have all received from the solemn and searching address in which this subject was brought before the General Assembly. For myself, I felt on that occasion that independently altogether of any practical measures that might arise out of it, a great deal was gained, if we only returned to our respective fields of labour with such a deep sense of our past shortcomings, our profound responsibilities, and the demands which God in his providence was making upon us, as was then awakened in the minds of every one of us. I feel persuaded, that if we go about our work in such a frame of mind, and under the intluence of such permanent impressions we would discover manifold ways and opportunities of preaching the gospel to our fellow men, which we have not heretofore discovered; perbaps because we have not 80 carefully looked for them, nor been so forward to embrace them as we ought to have been. I feel convinced that if we go forth with such an abiding sense of our obligations to redeeming love-with such a zeal for God's glory, and such concern for the souls of our people,-as was then inculcated upon us, none of us can fail to become fertile in expedients whereby to bring divine truth in contact with the con. sciences of men, and to proclaim to them the things which belong to their eternal peace. How much has taken place within these eight days to deepen upon our minds the sense of our obligations and responsibilities! Why, we have had report after report laid before us, each testifying more clearly than another how largely God has been furnishing us with means, through the liberality of our people, for preaching his Son's gospel, both at home and abroad. Our congregations have responded to our cali, when we told them their duty in this matter. But how very loud and solemn is the call which this response makes upon us as ministers of the gospel! for the great end of the whole is to strengthen our hands and encourage our hearts for carrying on the great work committed to us; and when such a great door and effec. tual has been opened to us, how fearful is our responsibility if we do not avail our. selves of it, and enter in and occupy it! But I do trust, with all humility, that we shall have grace given to avail ourselves of the facilities which, in God's providence, he is now giving to us for preaching, more earnestly and diligently than we have yet done, the gospel of his grace. I trust that future generations will look back to this period in the history of our Church as the commencement of a continued season of revival and refreshing from the presence of the Lord. I trust that it is with great Lumility that we give utterance to sentiments like these. But we cannot but remember that He is faithful and true, and will never fail to give deliverance to all who trust in his grace. I beg to move that the report be approved of.
Dr Brown, Glasgow.—I feel great diffidence in appearing before any meeting to offer my sentiments upon almost any subject. But I cannot refrain, upon this oc. casion, from declaring, that I bless God that I have been spared to see such an Assembly as that whose meetings have taken place within these ten days. I never expected to see such a holy convocation as has taken place during these few days; and the impression which has been made upon my own mind, and, I am persuaded, upon the minds of all who have been present on this occasion, will not be speedily effaced. I felt, when our respected brother was addressing us last Tuesday, especially upon the failings, and shortcomings, and grievous neglects of duty, that were chargeable upon one and all of us, I say, I felt I could take the address bome to myself and say, I am the man. And I have met with individual ministers of the everlasting gospel, who have been considered faithful in their day and generation in discharging a trust so awful and important, saying, that they felt they had now occasion to begin, as it were, anew in the discharge of their sacred duties. So much iinpressed have I been with a sense of my own failings, and shortcomings, and ne. glect, that I trust this feeling will go down with me to my dying day. It is not many years that I can expect to see in this vale of tears, it is not many years that I have to spend in my great Master's service ; but I trust, that the impression which by God's blessing, has been made upon my mind, will not speedily be effaced. I felt
persuaded at the time, that the effect of our proceedings would go over the length and breadth of the land ; and I know that they are telling everywhere, even amongst those who are opposed to us. They contrast our proceedings, and the spirit which prevails among us, with the proceedings which have taken place elsewhere, and they are led to say, even the most prejudiced among them, “ Oh, what a difference ! Surely the Lord is with the Free Church of Scotland, when they are animated, as with one beart and soul, for the promotion of the cause of Christ, and of personal religion and godliness." I sit down by seconding the motion that has just been made, that this report be approved of.
Robert Paul, Esq.- I should certainly not have presumed to open my lips in this Assembly upon such a solemn occasion as this, had it not been very strongly impressed upon my mind, that after all we have heard during these interesting days, it is right that the elders of the Church should declare their willingness to take part in the great work before us. I know not if other elders have felt as I have felt; but if the words of our revered ministers have fallen upon their ears as they have fallen upon mine,- if they have listened to the acknowledgments, the deep, heartfelt acknowledgments and confessions which they have uttered, and if these have influenced their minds as they have influenced mine, then the irrepressible feelings of their hearts must be, "If these things are done in the green tree, what must be done in the dry?” If they have felt themselves so unworthy and so deficient in the exercise of their sacred functions, what can we say in respect to the duties of the eldership, but that we are altogether undone? I rejoice, Moderator, in the prospect of better days. There was in the report read to. day an allusion to the duties of the elders; and, in the resolutions which we passed yesterday, there was a directory furnished as to how these duties should be discharged. Formerly, and, I may say, till lately, the office of an elder was considered almost entirely as secular one; and the habits which have gathered around us are so strong on this subject, that I was surprised the other evening, in seconding a motion on this subject, to detect myself using the expression “lay elder,"—an expression involving an absurdity and a contradiction. Formerly, the duties of the elders were supposed to consist in collecting and distributing the money to the poor, in handing round the elements at the communion, and a few other things of that kind; whereas, if we had been sensible, as we ougbt to have been, of the right duties which are required of us, we should have found these to be the very least of them. In the ad. dress wbich was delivered to us on Tuesday last, by the venerable Dr Chalmers, he made an allusion to a statement contained in the Second Book of Discipline, that the primary duty of the elders was “to seek for the fruits of the ministry." I could con. ceive nothing more encouraging to a minister than to know that he is surrounded by men who are engaged in this work,—hymen upon whose aid and assistance he can constant. ly depend, and who are employed from day to day in going about among the people, seeking the fruits of his ministry. We all remember the parable of the sower. The pastor is the sower,—he sow's the seed; but we know that the fowls of the air come and pick up a great deal of it,—that thorns grow up and choke it,-and that much is lost from want of deepness of earth. I would say that the primary duty of the elders is to go forth and drive away the fowls,-to cut down the thorns,-to try to deepen the earth; and, if possible, by going over, in a quiet domestic way, the ser. vices of the post Sabbath, to prepare the minds of the people for coming to receive the instructions of the next. There are a variety of opportunities of doing good oc. curring to elders which, perhaps, they alone possess. It is impossible to lay down strict rules on a subject such as this; but I am sure that where there is a will, the way will be found; and I believe that we shall discover that we shall not only best discharge our duty, but really consult the spiritual progress of our own minds, by striving to cultivate habits of Christian intercourse and intimacy with the people. In this way I believe that we shall both conduce to their edification, and be a great assistance to the ministers. Many a time, I dare say, our reverend fathers and brethren find their hands hanging heavy. Let us be to them what Aaron and Hur were to Moses, and hold up their hands. An allusion has to-day been made to the way in which the elders will be called upon, as they never were before, to exert them. selves; and a circumstance has been mentioned to which I cannot but refer. In the progress of the Sustentation Fund, and of various other funds, such as the Manse Fund, and the Church Building Fund, the elders will be called upon to take an active part. But let it not be forgotten, that in doing this part of our duty, we ought to set about it upon the principle of an appeal to the solid, vital Christianity of the people, and we should be contented to appeal to no lower motive; for it is only by raising up the tone of their. Christian and spiritual feelings that we can expect to succeed. I was struck the other evening with an observation which fell from a reverend friend, whose words are always weighty, in regard to the preparation of communicants for the Lord's Table, when he called upon us to consider for a mo. ment how many persons come to this solemn ordinance unprepared, and who, if the Bible speaks truth, are guilty of the heinous sin of crucifying the Son of God afresh. Here is a wide field of labour for the elders. Why should not this form part of their duty? Why should they not get hold of the young, obtain access to their minds, and lead them on, from step to step, until they reach that state of mind which should always exist before any one is admitted to that holy ordinance,-nay, watch over them until, in the emphatic words which we lately heard in this house, they are “not only shut up to the faith, but shut up in the faith.” And in the retrospect of the whole of our present proceedings, I would join with Dr Brown in testifying, that it has been a time of most peculiar refreshing and consolation. Why, it is like the time of a second conversion, when we are aroused and feel onrselves on ground we never stood on before! I don't desire to anticipate what may not be realised. I know very well that we have reason to expect that if we are to be a flourishing church, we must be a suffering church. It is the language, not of the true church but of Babylon, to say, " I shall sit as a queen and shall see no sorrow." But to use the language of an old writer—" The world cannot but misjudge the state of suffering Christians. It sees their crosses, but not their anointings. Was no! Stephen, think you, in a hard posture in his enemies' hands ? But was he afraid of the shower of stones coming about his ears, who saw the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God? So little, indeed, was he troubled with their stoning of him, that in the midst of it he fell asleep.” And let us humbly hope that whether God appoints to us a greater or less degree of suffering, he will grant an answer to the many devout prayers that have here been offered up, and that his Spirit will revive and refresh our souls! No doubt, if we faithfully discharge our duty, the world will scorn and scoff at us. If we truly fulfil the obligations of our office, going from house to house and persuading every one to come and taste that God is good, the world will account us either fools or madmen. But no folly, no madness, can be equal to his who, baving solemnly undertaken a spiritual office, cares not about what is involved in it,—no madness like his, who can contentedly see thousands living and dying at his door, without one thought as to their eternal destiny. The world will have its way, and we may have ours. « All people will walk every one in the name of his God, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.” “In that day, saith the Lord,”—a most appropriate and consolatory promise is this which follows,“ will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted, And I will make her that halteth a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation; and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth even for ever.
A. DUNLOP, Esq.—I feel deeply my inability to take any share in this discussion, but still I am very unwilling to let this interesting subject drop without saying a word, I have for some time past mingled largely in the business of church courts, and I must say, that from the time I entered a church court, (ten years ago) with the exception, perhaps, of the occasions when we were discussing our missionary schemes, I do not remember to bave heard the only real business of a church of Christ seriously and deliberately brought under our notice until now. We have been so much engaged in controversial warfare,-our whole minds, especially the minds of those who have taken an active part in the controversy, bave been so fully occupied with it, that we have lost sight altogether of the great and paramount duty of a church ; and we have reconciled our consciences to this neglect, by feeling that our time had been fully occupied with things about the Church, if not with things within the Church. But I have felt it delightful on this day to sit and listen to the remarks, and exhortations, and self-abasing confessions, which we have heard during those conversations ; and yet I cannot but feel that if we experienced this delight, who were engaged in the bustle of the Church, how much more delight must have been felt by those who shrunk from these struggles and contendings, and whose souls, as ibe hart panteth after the water brooks, longed to return to their proper duties, and to be allowed without distraction to sow the seed and seek for the fruit ? If the soldier rejoices at a cessation from war, how much more the husbandman, whose seed time bas been interrupted, and whose harvest has been kept back ? And now that we have laid aside the weapons of our warfare, and withdrawn altogether from the part we formerly took, I am sure that we all feel it to be a matter of joy and hearty thanksgiving to God that we are enabled so to do. I trust that wbile we see those who bave been trained up in a different school, doing what they can to give themselves with all humility and singleness of heart to the true work of the Lord, we will strive to follow their example. I am sure there can be nothing more touching than the accounts which we sometimes meet with from some Highland parishes, when attempts are first made to teach children to read. We hear of men in the prime of life, active and skilful in the ways of the world, or, it may be, descending into the vale of years, but wbo bave not had the means of religious in. struction, with child-like docility sitting beside their own children and grand-chil. dren, to learn the letters of the alphabet, and be able to read the precious Word of God. Now, I trust it will be the prayer of all in this Church, that we may be able to set ourselves to this better work with child-like simplicity, and to see that we receive with humility the lessons we are taught, rejoicing that those who come after us should have gotten so far before us.
A. E. MONTEITH, Esq. said, he deeply felt his great unworthiness to address the house on so solemn an occasion. He could not but lament, that while it bad been his province to stand forth in so many of the battles of the Church before the disruption, he felt most deeply, and confessed it, that this had been most deteriorating to his Christian character, and that he bad so little realised and discharged his duties as an elder ; and he did earnestly hope and pray that, from this day forward, be, as well as all the elders of the Church, remaining under the solemn impressions which this day's proceedings could not but produce, would feel the duties of Christian elders to be something extremely different from what they had hitherto considered them to be,--that this day would commence a new era, not only in the history of the clergy, but also of the eldership. What he rose now to do, was to say a few words in the way of directing their attention to a class of persons in this country who, unless some gr.at and immediate effort were made in their behalf, would, he feared, be sufferers from the disruption,--he meant the destitute population of our great towns, such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, who were in a state of entire moral and religious barrenness. He had listened with peculiar gratification to that part of the report which alluded to this subject,--a subject which had long occupied the attention of one who ought ever to hold the first place in the deliberations of this Assembly. But the difficulties in the way of doing much for the benefit of this class of the population bad, in one respect, been most seriously increased by the very disruption of the Church, because that now they were in want of that territorial arrangement, without which it would be nearly impossible to carry out a plan for the overtaking of this work. And then there was this other difficulty, that our clergymen must now be in a great measure congregational, and it would be utterly impossible for them to undertake the duty of watching over both the souls of their own congregations and at the same time to overtake a destitute locality. Now, they had been told that it was the duty of the elders to supplement the labours of the pastors; and on these elders and deacons, be would suggest, in the first instance, that the work should devolve of doing what the reverend Doctor had often desiderated, that of excavating the heathen in their great towns. He was sure that there was no one member but would also aid his elder, but he wished to impress this on the elders, that if the work was to be done they were the instruments by whom it was to be